If Bradley Whitford were in more horror movies, I would watch more horror movies.
You may have noticed I don’t review slasher flicks, anything involving demonic possessions or any tale of hauntings “based on a true story.” I don’t have anything against them. It’s just that I don’t watch them in my spare time and don’t have the frame of reference to know whether one of them is worth recommending.
But give me a good genre-bending thriller that transcends its horror trappings, such as 2012’s “The Cabin in the Woods” or this weekend’s “Get Out,” both of which star the “West Wing” Emmy winner, and I’m happier than a masked murderer covered in entrails.
Much like “The Cabin in the Woods,” “Get Out” works best the less you know about it. But it’s basically “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” with a touch of “The Stepford Wives” by way of a young M. Night Shyamalan.
Written by Jordan Peele — yes that Jordan Peele, of “Key and Peele” fame — making his directorial debut, the social satire plays with the very real fears that come with being a young black man in today’s America.
After five months together, photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya, “Sicario”) and his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams, “Girls”), have reached the stage where it’s time to meet her parents (Whitford, Catherine Keener) during a weekend at their remote country estate.
Since he’s the first black guy she’s ever dated, Chris is a little concerned that she never mentioned his race. Relax, Rose tells him, her parents are very progressive. Her dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have, something he mentions almost immediately after meeting Chris.
But the cracks beneath the perfectly charming facade begin to show early during their visit. There’s the black groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson), who’s far too excited to be chopping wood, and the black housekeeper (Betty Gabriel), who always seems to be teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
Rose’s dad uses the phrase “my man” a little too frequently. And her brother (Caleb Landry Jones) — who comes across like the banjo-playing kid from “Deliverance” grew up, went to prep school and started playing lacrosse — envies Chris’ “genetic makeup.”
Chris lets it all slide, because you can tell he’s spent a lot of time in situations like that — and worse.
Rose, meanwhile, is horrified to learn she forgot it’s the weekend of her parents’ annual party, and things get even weirder when Chris meets some of the guests.
The charismatic Kaluuya has terrific chemistry with Williams, suggesting that despite “Peter Pan Live!,” the actress just may have a bright future ahead of her now that HBO’s “Girls” is coming to an end.
“Get Out” is a remarkable first effort from Peele. With his comedy partner, Keegan-Michael Key, landing more high-profile acting gigs as well as an Emmy nomination for his acting work on their sketch series, Peele was in danger of becoming the duo’s Garfunkel. No longer.
Peele’s filmmaking debut is a confident, assured movie crammed full of wit, clever twists and surprising depth. It’s a delightful surprise — “delightful” not being a word generally associated with horror — that couldn’t have come along at a better time.
Without revealing too much, let’s just say that “Get Out” will feel downright cathartic to a large swath of America.
Aside from “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Get Out” is the best time I’ve had at the movies in months — going back at least to “Don’t Breathe,” another transcendent horror movie.
So get out and see it already.